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TOPIC: Fitbit MINUS Adjustment

 
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October 20, 2012 8:45 AM
Okay, its been 9 days since Scott posted the below explanation of the change in the Fitbit adjustment and several people have pointed out that they did not like it and several have hinted that it does not work properly. After not hearing any more from the staff on this I decided to do some reality checking based on the math provided by Scott below. I highlighted portions of Scott's quote to reference in my results posted below the quote.
QUOTE:

Hi,

Sorry for the delay in responding to you and sorry for any inconvenience. I'd be happy to help you troubleshoot the connection between your two accounts, if there is a technical issue. May I ask you to check a few items that will help us to determine if your accounts are syncing properly? Because we can't access your Fitbit account directly, it will be very helpful if you can check the following items to see if they match between your accounts.

There are three data points that you can compare between your Fitbit and MFP accounts to determine if your accounts are syncing properly.

These three items are Fitbit Steps, Fitbit Sleep Minutes, and the FItBit Adjustment (for calories burned).

You can see your Fitbit Steps and Fitbit Sleep Minutes in two places:

1. Under the "My Home" tab, click "Check-In". This will take you to a screen where you can enter in new progress measurements. This is where we record your Fitbit Steps and Fitbit Sleep Minutes. If you want to go directly to that screen you can go to this URL:

www.myfitnesspal.com/measurements/check_in

2. You can see a graph of your Steps and Sleep Minutes by going to the "Reports" tab and choosing to graph "Progress". When you see the option to "Choose a Report" you can choose Steps or Sleep Minutes. This will give you a little graph.

(Note that if you do not attach your Fitbit to the wrist band and set it to stopwatch mode when you sleep, you should not expect to see any Fitbit Sleep Minutes data.)

If you want to verify that the Fitbit calorie adjustment is working correctly, here's an explanation of how we calculate the adjustment:

To understand your Fitbit Calorie Adjustment for any completed day, take your "Calories burned from normal daily activity" on your goals page (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/account/my_goals)

Add to it any exercise calories you've burned as shown in your exercise diary, but don't include your Fitbit Adjustment

Compare that total to your calories burned on your Fitbit (only if it's an entire day's worth of calories)

The difference between the two is your Fitbit adjustment

At this time we do not allow negative Fitbit adjustments, so we bring your Fitbit adjustment back to 0 if it's negative. We are looking into allowing negative adjustments in the future, but for now, you might want to lower your MyFitnessPal "activity level" in your diet/fitness profile by a notch, if possible, if you're not seeing a regular "positive" adjustment.

The adjustment that you see during the course of an incomplete day is a projection made for the entire day, based on the amount of activity currently reported by Fitbit. Your adjustment will become more accurate of the course of the day, each time your Fitbit has a chance to update with your account on fitbit.com.

Here is a more detailed explanation of the way we calculate the projected adjustment before a day is over:

If you only have a partial day's worth of calories on your Fitbit, we calculate how many minutes are left in the day, and we use that to create a projection for how many calories you'll burn today.

The calculation is: Fitbit calories so far for the day + (minutes left in the day / total minutes in a day) * (calories burned from normal daily activity)

So for example, if it's 12 noon, you've burned 1200 calories so far today according to Fitbit, and your calories burned from normal daily activity on MFP is 2000, the projection is:

1200 + (720 / 1440) * 2000 =
1200 + (1/2) * 2000 =
1200 + 1000=
2200
so the adjustment becomes
2200 - 2000 (mfp calories burned from normal daily activity)=
200


After comparing the activity on Fitbit and the related synced items on MFP, if you find a discrepancy or a failure to sync, please let us know the details and we will be happy to investigate further.

Cheers,
Scott
MyFitnessPal Staff
If only the first highlight was still true, it wasn't even true on the day he posted it as the OP pointed out, but I digress.

This is true, it does become more accurate as the day progresses, providing you don't exercise. Great for folks like me who generally just walk for exercise, not so great for folks who do specific exercise, especially exercises not recorded properly by Fitbit or cannot be recorded by Fitbit at all (swimming comes to mind.)

Scott says that they used a projection calculation in making up the FitBit adjustment. Maybe they use a calculation of how many minutes are left in the day to explain it to themselves, but I can assure you that the programmer who did the calculation did not use that at all. Follow along here; the calculation that Scott gave us was wrong on three counts:
1. The actual calculation is based on how many minutes have elapsed in the day, not how many are left.
2. The actual example he used could not have been worse, as being exactly 1/2 of a day, it worked out correctly because there were as many minutes left in the day as there elapsed minutes.
3. Logged exercise is not used at all, it is completely ignored in the adjustment.

The actual formula, which once I realized Scott had thrown us a red herring, is not difficult and fairly easy to understand. It is as follows:

1. Take the MFP estimated TDEE from the goals page that Scott pointed out. Or, if you are listed as sedentary you can multiply your current BMR by 1.25 to get the current TDEE estimate. I don't know what factor they use for the other activity levels, and it appears they use your current weight to recalculate the estimate on a daily basis for this adjustment calculation but that is not reflected in your goals page. http://www.myfitnesspal.com/account/my_goals

2. Figure out how many minutes have elapsed in the day since midnight. Divide that by 1440 (total minutes in a day) and then multiply that result by the TDEE estimate. This results in the projected calorie burn so far in the day.

3. The difference between what the Fitbit is saying at the current time and the above calculated number is the current Fitbit adjustment; in other words current Fitbit calorie burn minus the above calculation.

I will use my numbers and the current time today for an example: 10:15 AM local time, 615 minutes into the day; current Fitbit calorie count 1078; my TDEE (today) 2442.
615 / 1440 = .428083
2442 x .428083 = 1045 (and some left over)
1078 - 1045 = 33
When I started typing this (and grabbed the above figures), my Fitbit adjustment on MFP was 32. Clearly you can see 32 is close to 33, so accounting for rounding errors, we can say this is how they do the calculation. I do encourage you to test this out during the day for yourself and see if I have done this correctly.

Yesterday I did some logged activity. It just so happens that my timed Fitbit activity on the FB site and my MFP logged activity were within 1 calorie so that doesn't tell me anything. I was tempted to not wear my Fitbit while mowing the lawn, but I did and as a result I can't prove anything about yesterday. However, since, when I logged the activity here at MFP, my exercise calories were cut by over 200 calories via a Fitbit adjustment, I can guess that if the Fitbit had not agreed with the estimate by the time the day ended, I would have lost at least some of the credit for my activity. Why am I stressing this, well between what I saw yesterday when I entered the exercise, what other folks have reported here in this topic and others (both here and at fitbit.com) it is apparent that if you do some sort of exercise that is not properly reflected on your Fitbit (swimming, biking, rowing, etc.), you will not get credit for those exercise calories, if you log them here at MFP. That is despite what Scott said above and everything we had been used to in the past. BTW, based on what I am seeing being posted elsewhere, this is not confined to the Fitbit, other linked hardware or app sites are experiencing the same difficulty with adjustments.

It has been suggested by several folks, including some in this topic, to stop logging exercise here and log it at Fitbit instead, I have not tested that, but I will have to admit it sounds better than getting ripped off for working out with the current calculation. As for me, I still have the accounts linked, but I do no "organized" exercise. I walk, I occasionally ride a bike (but have not since this change happened) so, until I can show that I am being ripped off of exercise credit, I will stay linked, or log at Fitbit if that works. But seriously, the staff here needs to catch the clue bus.
  24548612
October 20, 2012 10:34 AM
Well currently at a loss of 233 calories on MFP due to a FB adjustment. Good thing I did not eat breakfast this morning and just had coffee while reading the newspaper..............Dang exhausted I better go back to bed, no wait I may wake up again over budget.

Sarcasm intended. Perhaps I can find something else that plays better with FB. Either way I will probably De-link.
October 20, 2012 10:49 AM
I manually enter my calories burned during exercise on fitbit dashboard because I use an HRM. It shows the correct calories burned on FB, but then doesn't transfer all the calories burned to MFP. For example if I burn 552 calories and enter that manually in FB it only transfers around 420... I don't understand why it wouldn't credit me with those cal burned then. Why should it wait and transfer them over the day. I don't understand the explanation...
  8446015
October 20, 2012 12:02 PM
I'd say wait until later in the day and see if it evens out... It has for me, every day.

If you have a -100 balance, and you earn 300 calories with exercise, the most you'll see is +200 until more Fitbit activity builds up over the day.

My profiles are both set to sedentary. Right now, I'm running right around 4,000 Fitbit steps and no additional exercise. My current adjustment is 124 calories gained as of 3p ET.

QUOTE:

Goal: 1445
Food: 864
Exercise: -124
Net: 740


It's not unusual for me to start a hundred or so calories in the hole and, if I'm working & sitting at my desk, stay there until well after lunch time. For that time period my "Net" will be higher than my "Food" calories due to the "negative adjustment" from Fitbit.

Once my activity level catches up, and especially after work when I exercise, things even out and I find that my "Net" is lower than my "Food" calories due to a "positive adjustment" from Fitbit.

One thing that may be different with my setup is that I do *not* enter activity into MFP. All of my activity gets entered into Fitbit, either manually or via the Fitbit-to-Digifit synchronization process (and pretty much all of it comes via Digifit, since I enter my exercise activities there and let them sync first to Fitbit and then into MFP).
Edited by jasonheyd On October 20, 2012 12:03 PM
  1897001
October 20, 2012 2:05 PM
QUOTE:

Not liking this "new update".

Since I don't exercise until the evenings I get to look at a BIG FAT NEGATIVE that only gets bigger as my day progresses noway Doesn't do much for my motivation factor...

Who decided this was best for me?? grumble


I absolutely agree! When I see my fitbit zeroing out all of my activity for the day I feel like I can't win, so why play? If this is how it's going to work from now on, I may sever the connection and do my adjusting manually so I can actually see my progress and be motivated by it!

NOT an improvement in my view!
  22420126
October 20, 2012 8:50 PM
Hi everyone,

We're aware that the ability for the Fitbit Adjustment to show a negative value has been a cause of some concern among our users. We'd like to take a moment to explain why, from our perspective, showing you a negative calorie adjustment, when appropriate, is to your benefit, and then we'd love to hear your response. It's absolutely our goal to help you reach your weight loss goals, and we think that by providing you calorie information that's more accurate than we could before, we'll be helping in the long run. But your experience is very important to us, so we'll do our best to clarify what you're seeing, and then we're eager to hear how that sits with you.

Prior to the change we made that allowed negative adjustments, you may have been eating more calories than the Fitbit was reporting you actually needed, on any day when your Fitbit adjustment was zero.

While our MyFitnessPal calorie goals are as accurate as we can make them, the fact that we only have four levels of "activity" for users to report (sedentary, lightly active, etc.) leaves room for error to some degree. There's no absolute definition of "sedentary" or "lightly active", but we know that within a reasonable margin for error, these four levels of estimated activity will allow all of our members to set a reasonable goal, and lose weight.

Let's take an example case where MyFitnessPal has calculated your daily Net Calorie goal as 2000 calorie, with your profile set to "Sedentary."

It's quite possible that on some days you're actually not burning 2000 calories, because your level of activity is a bit below what we've called "Sedentary." The Fitbit, because it's tracking you all day, is aware of these days, and can now show you how far under your 2000 calorie goal your actual day turned out to be.

Prior to October 16th, any day on which your Fitbit Calorie Adjustment was "zero: was either a on which you did not wear the Fitbit, or that your activity level was low enough not to reach 2000 calories as measured by the Fitbit. If the latter is the case, then unbeknownst to you, by consuming 2000 calories, you were actually over the amount of Calories that our integration with Fitbit had calculated. We just had no way to indicate this to you, before.

A few of these days here or there shouldn't make a difference in the long run, but ultimately we were not giving you correct data on these days. It may have looked like you "earned" exactly 2000 calories, but in fact it might have been closer to 1900 or 1950.

Now that we can present an adjustment below zero, we can show you, on days when you are less active then others, a more accurate calorie goal than 2000. Even if you do eat past this goal on those days, due to the adjustment updating over the course of your day, it's no worse than the days you may have done so because we were showing you a "zero" adjustment that would have been better represented as an adjustment that moved your goal below 2000. Now that you're able to see this if it happens, we hope the benefit will be that either you'll more accurately hit your calorie goal that day as it updates over time, or if you do go over, you'll know by how much. This should help, on similar days in the future, for you to gauge that a particularly inactive day may end up being a 1900 calorie day, so you can plan appropriately.

Our point of view is that now you have better data than you had before. The zero adjustment was a technical limitation of our inability to handle negative numbers in calculating your goal. But the advantage of integrating with Fitbit SHOULD be that it can show you your exact level of activity, whether that is a bit less, or a bit more, than our estimated "sedentary" calculation suggests. The new negative adjustment now allows us to show you whether you have burned more or fewer calories than we though you would.

I hope that this helps. The short version of everything above is that a zero Fitbit adjustment has always represented our failure to show you the most accurate information, and now, with your MyFitnessPal calorie goal as a starting point, we can more accurately show you how a given day compares to that goal, whether higher or lower.

Take care,
Rachel
October 20, 2012 9:05 PM
I'd also like to express my unhappiness with this change despite going through and reading everything I can. I'd like an option to have it go back to the old way please. Syncing has been so buggy between these two for awhile and it was finally starting to work well and now this.

To me it's not helpful because my calorie intake DOES NOT change based on my activity level. I eat around the same amount of calories give or take 100-200. I do not want to eat less or more.
October 20, 2012 9:15 PM
I would like to request that you make this negative calorie adjustment an OPTIONAL choice. I have adjusted my calorie requirement to reflect basically just my resting caloric need. Therefore, I do not need you to adjust my activity numbers based on not meeting a certain level. I need to eat the amount of calories that I have indicated - as a bare minimum - so showing a negative balance is not only demotivating, but truly inaccurate.

I think making changes that are supposed "improvements" without allowing "choice" makes it feel much more like a "reduction in service" from MFP. It seems like many are looking to unlink or even searching for a replacement food diary option.

Since FB syncs with more and more apps, I would think that allowing this to be an OPTION rather than a mandate would be a wise decision.

Thanks for listening - I hope you do!

-Kim
October 20, 2012 10:43 PM
Rachel;

While I understand your explanation, you have outlined only 1 possible situation that a MFP user may encounter occasionally. I believe my situation to be like many MFP users that are just as frustrated with this change as I am.

I awake at 6:00am and the first thing I do is go sync my FitBit to capture my sleep pattern. Then I turn off my computer, shower, have breakfast and head to work. I work in an office environment and have my profile set to sedentary. All day long MFP is subtracting calories from my profile. Some days I'll walk several blocks to get lunch and back. I take the stairs up to the second floor to use the restroom up there so I can get stairs in. None of that information is used in your calculation because it hasn't synced with my FitBit. I start with a net goal of 1300 calories, I eat perhaps 400 calories for breakfast and 500 calories for lunch. According to MFP, by the afternoon I've now exceeded my calories for the day because I'm showing a -800 calorie adjustment. How do you see that as accurate or helpful?

After I leave work I stop at the gym to either swim for cardio or lift weights then I head home. I check MFP and according to that I can not have any dinner or anything else to eat for the rest of the day. In order to plan a meal I first have to go turn my computer on, sync my FitBit and log my exercise. Then MFP will make another adjustment and suddenly now I have over 1000 calories left to consume for the day.

The problem with your calculation is that it requires constant sync information from FitBit to be accurate. If my FitBit was syncing every 15 minutes you'd have a good snapshot of my activity level with which to base your calculations. As it is you are estimating my activity level based on my overnight sleep activity. That is actually LESS accurate than a zero adjustment was. It is frustrating to see on a daily basis and causing me to consider dropping MFP as a tool I use.

I can give you two suggestions to remedy this situation.

First, as many others have suggested, add an option to the profile to allow the user to decide if they want to use the negative adjustment or not. Its a simple checkbox option.

Second, only perform your calculation when you receive a FitBit sync. That way you aren't estimating values for your calculation. In my instance you'd perform the calculation when I sync in the morning with my sleep then not again until I sync at the end of the day. That way when you perform that calculation in the evening you have my ACTUAL activity for the day to base it on and you can come back and give a negative adjustment if that's what works out. With that information I can make a dinner choice more intelligently.

As it is now your information is useless and completely inaccurate for me until after dinner when I enter my exercise for the day and complete my diary. Then, and only then, do you provide me a pretty accurate snapshot of my day. It is apparent to me that this calculation was put in place to facilitate the new FitBit products that can sync on a regular basis via your cell phone. Your using my second suggestion would provide those people with up to the minute estimations based on real time data. For those of us who may only sync in the morning and in the evening, we would see what we've seen in the past.

Your site has a successful history of helping many people keep track of their fitness and nutrition. There are outstanding results being reported every day on this site. Myself, I've lost almost 40lbs in the last 6 months. We've all accomplished these results with your help and WITHOUT this upgraded algorithm. What you perceived as a lack of accuracy was not harming anyone, it was not a problem that needed addressing. Change for the sake of change is not improvement.
October 21, 2012 1:06 AM
azdesertdawg - I just want to say that your post is very eloquently put, and summarises some other people's issues very well.
  26587270
October 21, 2012 1:31 AM
I have read the comments here but am still a bit in the dark to be honest, I have never had a 0 fitbit calorie adjustment, more like a positive of 500-1000 calories, so I dont understand how I can get a negative 8 whilst doing over 10,000 steps and hitting the gym for and hour and a half (in the morning). Especially when my myfitnesspal is set to sedentry. My fitbit says I have currently burned 2076 (at 5:30pm) whilst myfitnesspal says I should be eating 1668 for the whole day, my deficit is only 250, I am struggling to understand this.
  4488507
October 21, 2012 1:36 AM
Sorry for the double post, I just wanted to add this, to a lot of us giving us a negative can be very demoralizing, especially for people who exercise at night or dont constantly sync. I can understand why you did it, but it should be an opt in, not just changing it without notice or choice to reject.
Also, this could lead to some people having an unhealthy relationship with food and the way they diet, in my opinion.
  4488507
October 21, 2012 4:36 AM
I appreciate the response posted above by MFP staff and realize the dedication it must have taken to put such effort into it. It explains everything and allows me to understand that this change is for the best! I never realized that MFP didn't use my bare minimum BMR before but understand their need to do things as they have. Thanks for the explanation and I look forward to it helping me in the future!
  17254969
October 21, 2012 5:28 AM
QUOTE:

I awake at 6:00am and the first thing I do is go sync my FitBit to capture my sleep pattern. Then I turn off my computer, shower, have breakfast and head to work. I work in an office environment and have my profile set to sedentary. All day long MFP is subtracting calories from my profile. Some days I'll walk several blocks to get lunch and back. I take the stairs up to the second floor to use the restroom up there so I can get stairs in. None of that information is used in your calculation because it hasn't synced with my FitBit. I start with a net goal of 1300 calories, I eat perhaps 400 calories for breakfast and 500 calories for lunch. According to MFP, by the afternoon I've now exceeded my calories for the day because I'm showing a -800 calorie adjustment. How do you see that as accurate or helpful?

After I leave work I stop at the gym to either swim for cardio or lift weights then I head home. I check MFP and according to that I can not have any dinner or anything else to eat for the rest of the day. In order to plan a meal I first have to go turn my computer on, sync my FitBit and log my exercise. Then MFP will make another adjustment and suddenly now I have over 1000 calories left to consume for the day.


I wonder...

Fitbit has a calorie estimation feature for folks who don't sync often. Under "Edit Profile" -> "Preferences" there's a choice for "Calorie Estimation" (enabled/disabled). Go here to find it: http://www.fitbit.com/user/profile/edit

Here's what Fitbit says about their calorie estimation: http://help.fitbit.com/customer/portal/articles/176129-how-do-you-calculate-calories-burned-

Personally, I turn that estimation off because I sync frequently, but I wonder if it might give you a more accurate progression from "negative adjustment" to "normal" over the course of your normal day & where you're not syncing frequently?

Here's some more detailed info from the Fitbit manual:

QUOTE:

Calorie Estimation: A setting in your profile that determines whether BMR or EER is used for days that you forget to wear your Tracker, you haven't synced yet, or you do not have a Tracker linked to your account.

If you have a Tracker and have synced recently, the calories will match the Tracker's number. This includes your BMR, activity calories, and calories from manually logged activities. Manually logged activities replace the Tracker's calorie estimate for that time frame, so there's no need to worry about double counting the calories.

If you do not have a Tracker, the calorie calculation is the same as if you have not synced.

If you have NOT synced recently, you could see two different values depending on whether or not you've enabled calorie estimation.

Calorie estimation enabled:

- EER is displayed if you do not have any manually logged activities or not enough logged activities to overcome the EER estimate.
- If BMR + calories from manually logged activities is greater than 80% of your EER, that calculated number is displayed.
- If EER is used, an asterisk (*) will be displayed next to your calorie burn number. Putting your mouse over the * will display a definition of calorie estimation.

Calorie estimation disabled:

- BMR is displayed + calories from manually logged activities.


Ref. http://www.fitbit.com/manual#section-start

MFP staff, any insight on that aspect?
Edited by jasonheyd On October 21, 2012 5:33 AM
  1897001
October 21, 2012 6:36 AM
I'm going to change my exercise goals to see if it makes a difference, but I want to say that this "projection" of my activity levels is not required. If I go for a run before work and the FitBit syncs, then sit at my desk for the rest of the day, this "projection feature" will tell me I have more calories to eat for the day than I have actually earned. Likewise, as many have noticed it takes away my from my calorie goal until the adjustment is made at the end of the day. Not all of us use the 'eat-exercise-calories' method. Personally, I eat a fixed amount each day, so I don't need FitBit to take away for calories I haven't earned yet.

Please please please make this optional.
  7030416
October 21, 2012 6:51 AM
QUOTE:

I'd say wait until later in the day and see if it evens out... It has for me, every day.

If you have a -100 balance, and you earn 300 calories with exercise, the most you'll see is +200 until more Fitbit activity builds up over the day.

My profiles are both set to sedentary. Right now, I'm running right around 4,000 Fitbit steps and no additional exercise. My current adjustment is 124 calories gained as of 3p ET.

QUOTE:

Goal: 1445
Food: 864


Exercise: -124
Net: 740


It's not unusual for me to start a hundred or so calories in the hole and, if I'm working & sitting at my desk, stay there until well after lunch time. For that time period my "Net" will be higher than my "Food" calories due to the "negative adjustment" from Fitbit.

Once my activity level catches up, and especially after work when I exercise, things even out and I find that my "Net" is lower than my "Food" calories due to a "positive adjustment" from Fitbit.

One thing that may be different with my setup is that I do *not* enter activity into MFP. All of my activity gets entered into Fitbit, either manually or via the Fitbit-to-Digifit synchronization process (and pretty much all of it comes via Digifit, since I enter my exercise activities there and let them sync first to Fitbit and then into MFP).


Nope, I never get credit anymore for all the calories burned during exercises, even at the end of the day. If this continues I will stop using fitbit for everything except as an expensive pedometer. Then I will just log my calories burned in MFP using my HRM.
  8446015
October 21, 2012 7:18 AM
bump to read
  19861998
October 21, 2012 7:24 AM
My issue is more than just with the negative adjustment. This used to work amazingly well. However, now I a seriously considering going to a new program. Yesterday I had 27,000 steps...yes, that is right 27,000 and I ended the day with -19 as the adjustment? I also had 29 floors and an active rating of 154%. Like others, I first thought this was fitbit, but I have have come to realize through these forums it is MFP. Please, please fix this? Three members of my family, including myself, use this functionality every single day and all of us are having issues.
October 21, 2012 7:30 AM
QUOTE:

So my Fitbit calorie adjustment this morning just added +89 calories. As in, eating 89 calories. Pretty sure I didn't eat my Fitbit.

What gives?


laugh laugh
October 21, 2012 8:15 AM
Would it be useful to add another lifestyle choice below sedentary?

Perhaps if we could choose a BMR option there would be no negative corrections - only positive ones, once fitbit is added in?

A little like logged exercise can currently be added to a sedentary lifestyle?
Edited by Salkeela On October 21, 2012 8:15 AM
  29330708
October 21, 2012 8:44 AM
QUOTE:

Rachel;

While I understand your explanation, you have outlined only 1 possible situation that a MFP user may encounter occasionally. I believe my situation to be like many MFP users that are just as frustrated with this change as I am.

I awake at 6:00am and the first thing I do is go sync my FitBit to capture my sleep pattern. Then I turn off my computer, shower, have breakfast and head to work. I work in an office environment and have my profile set to sedentary. All day long MFP is subtracting calories from my profile. Some days I'll walk several blocks to get lunch and back. I take the stairs up to the second floor to use the restroom up there so I can get stairs in. None of that information is used in your calculation because it hasn't synced with my FitBit. I start with a net goal of 1300 calories, I eat perhaps 400 calories for breakfast and 500 calories for lunch. According to MFP, by the afternoon I've now exceeded my calories for the day because I'm showing a -800 calorie adjustment. How do you see that as accurate or helpful?

After I leave work I stop at the gym to either swim for cardio or lift weights then I head home. I check MFP and according to that I can not have any dinner or anything else to eat for the rest of the day. In order to plan a meal I first have to go turn my computer on, sync my FitBit and log my exercise. Then MFP will make another adjustment and suddenly now I have over 1000 calories left to consume for the day.

The problem with your calculation is that it requires constant sync information from FitBit to be accurate. If my FitBit was syncing every 15 minutes you'd have a good snapshot of my activity level with which to base your calculations. As it is you are estimating my activity level based on my overnight sleep activity. That is actually LESS accurate than a zero adjustment was. It is frustrating to see on a daily basis and causing me to consider dropping MFP as a tool I use.

I can give you two suggestions to remedy this situation.

First, as many others have suggested, add an option to the profile to allow the user to decide if they want to use the negative adjustment or not. Its a simple checkbox option.

Second, only perform your calculation when you receive a FitBit sync. That way you aren't estimating values for your calculation. In my instance you'd perform the calculation when I sync in the morning with my sleep then not again until I sync at the end of the day. That way when you perform that calculation in the evening you have my ACTUAL activity for the day to base it on and you can come back and give a negative adjustment if that's what works out. With that information I can make a dinner choice more intelligently.

As it is now your information is useless and completely inaccurate for me until after dinner when I enter my exercise for the day and complete my diary. Then, and only then, do you provide me a pretty accurate snapshot of my day. It is apparent to me that this calculation was put in place to facilitate the new FitBit products that can sync on a regular basis via your cell phone. Your using my second suggestion would provide those people with up to the minute estimations based on real time data. For those of us who may only sync in the morning and in the evening, we would see what we've seen in the past.

Your site has a successful history of helping many people keep track of their fitness and nutrition. There are outstanding results being reported every day on this site. Myself, I've lost almost 40lbs in the last 6 months. We've all accomplished these results with your help and WITHOUT this upgraded algorithm. What you perceived as a lack of accuracy was not harming anyone, it was not a problem that needed addressing. Change for the sake of change is not improvement.


Azdesertdawg has hit the nail on the head. This new method only makes sense, if at all, for people who are able to sync continuously with FitBit. For those of us who have a FitBit Ultra, with a sync station only at home, we are stuck all day long looking at a huge calorie deficit without knowing where we really are at. I suppose we could look at our FitBit throughout the day and then look at MFP and then make a mental arithmetic adjustment, but who in the world wants to go from a very easy, automatic process to such a ridiculously cumbersome one.

I too had suspected suspect that the decision to make this change was jointly made by MFP and FitBit, but he expressed it well. The two companies no doubt have an agreement to sync and support each other and I suspect FitBit would like to drive customers to buy the new FitBit, which will allow realtime syncing with iPhone and "select Android" devices. Having continuous FitBit adjustments then might make sense.
Edited by NorthWoodsLee On October 21, 2012 8:46 AM
  23643770
October 21, 2012 9:21 AM
QUOTE:

Hi everyone,

We're aware that the ability for the Fitbit Adjustment to show a negative value has been a cause of some concern among our users. We'd like to take a moment to explain why, from our perspective, showing you a negative calorie adjustment, when appropriate, is to your benefit, and then we'd love to hear your response. It's absolutely our goal to help you reach your weight loss goals, and we think that by providing you calorie information that's more accurate than we could before, we'll be helping in the long run. But your experience is very important to us, so we'll do our best to clarify what you're seeing, and then we're eager to hear how that sits with you.

Prior to the change we made that allowed negative adjustments, you may have been eating more calories than the Fitbit was reporting you actually needed, on any day when your Fitbit adjustment was zero.

While our MyFitnessPal calorie goals are as accurate as we can make them, the fact that we only have four levels of "activity" for users to report (sedentary, lightly active, etc.) leaves room for error to some degree. There's no absolute definition of "sedentary" or "lightly active", but we know that within a reasonable margin for error, these four levels of estimated activity will allow all of our members to set a reasonable goal, and lose weight.

Let's take an example case where MyFitnessPal has calculated your daily Net Calorie goal as 2000 calorie, with your profile set to "Sedentary."

It's quite possible that on some days you're actually not burning 2000 calories, because your level of activity is a bit below what we've called "Sedentary." The Fitbit, because it's tracking you all day, is aware of these days, and can now show you how far under your 2000 calorie goal your actual day turned out to be.

Prior to October 16th, any day on which your Fitbit Calorie Adjustment was "zero: was either a on which you did not wear the Fitbit, or that your activity level was low enough not to reach 2000 calories as measured by the Fitbit. If the latter is the case, then unbeknownst to you, by consuming 2000 calories, you were actually over the amount of Calories that our integration with Fitbit had calculated. We just had no way to indicate this to you, before.

A few of these days here or there shouldn't make a difference in the long run, but ultimately we were not giving you correct data on these days. It may have looked like you "earned" exactly 2000 calories, but in fact it might have been closer to 1900 or 1950.

Now that we can present an adjustment below zero, we can show you, on days when you are less active then others, a more accurate calorie goal than 2000. Even if you do eat past this goal on those days, due to the adjustment updating over the course of your day, it's no worse than the days you may have done so because we were showing you a "zero" adjustment that would have been better represented as an adjustment that moved your goal below 2000. Now that you're able to see this if it happens, we hope the benefit will be that either you'll more accurately hit your calorie goal that day as it updates over time, or if you do go over, you'll know by how much. This should help, on similar days in the future, for you to gauge that a particularly inactive day may end up being a 1900 calorie day, so you can plan appropriately.

Our point of view is that now you have better data than you had before. The zero adjustment was a technical limitation of our inability to handle negative numbers in calculating your goal. But the advantage of integrating with Fitbit SHOULD be that it can show you your exact level of activity, whether that is a bit less, or a bit more, than our estimated "sedentary" calculation suggests. The new negative adjustment now allows us to show you whether you have burned more or fewer calories than we though you would.

I hope that this helps. The short version of everything above is that a zero Fitbit adjustment has always represented our failure to show you the most accurate information, and now, with your MyFitnessPal calorie goal as a starting point, we can more accurately show you how a given day compares to that goal, whether higher or lower.

Take care,
Rachel


I think this makes sense and I am good with it. I use my fitbit to estimate calories based on activity levels. Since I don't fit into any of the categories used on MFP, I have my activity level set to lightly active and use my fitbit estimates to buy calories if I'm more active. I have noticed that when I had the negative calories early in the day, the numbers corrected later as I became more active. So...thanks for the explanation...this fits in with how I use the integrated MFP and fitbit.
  8447411
October 21, 2012 9:52 AM
QUOTE:

Rachel;

While I understand your explanation, you have outlined only 1 possible situation that a MFP user may encounter occasionally. I believe my situation to be like many MFP users that are just as frustrated with this change as I am.

I awake at 6:00am and the first thing I do is go sync my FitBit to capture my sleep pattern. Then I turn off my computer, shower, have breakfast and head to work. I work in an office environment and have my profile set to sedentary. All day long MFP is subtracting calories from my profile. Some days I'll walk several blocks to get lunch and back. I take the stairs up to the second floor to use the restroom up there so I can get stairs in. None of that information is used in your calculation because it hasn't synced with my FitBit. I start with a net goal of 1300 calories, I eat perhaps 400 calories for breakfast and 500 calories for lunch. According to MFP, by the afternoon I've now exceeded my calories for the day because I'm showing a -800 calorie adjustment. How do you see that as accurate or helpful?

After I leave work I stop at the gym to either swim for cardio or lift weights then I head home. I check MFP and according to that I can not have any dinner or anything else to eat for the rest of the day. In order to plan a meal I first have to go turn my computer on, sync my FitBit and log my exercise. Then MFP will make another adjustment and suddenly now I have over 1000 calories left to consume for the day.

The problem with your calculation is that it requires constant sync information from FitBit to be accurate. If my FitBit was syncing every 15 minutes you'd have a good snapshot of my activity level with which to base your calculations. As it is you are estimating my activity level based on my overnight sleep activity. That is actually LESS accurate than a zero adjustment was. It is frustrating to see on a daily basis and causing me to consider dropping MFP as a tool I use.

I can give you two suggestions to remedy this situation.

First, as many others have suggested, add an option to the profile to allow the user to decide if they want to use the negative adjustment or not. Its a simple checkbox option.

Second, only perform your calculation when you receive a FitBit sync. That way you aren't estimating values for your calculation. In my instance you'd perform the calculation when I sync in the morning with my sleep then not again until I sync at the end of the day. That way when you perform that calculation in the evening you have my ACTUAL activity for the day to base it on and you can come back and give a negative adjustment if that's what works out. With that information I can make a dinner choice more intelligently.

As it is now your information is useless and completely inaccurate for me until after dinner when I enter my exercise for the day and complete my diary. Then, and only then, do you provide me a pretty accurate snapshot of my day. It is apparent to me that this calculation was put in place to facilitate the new FitBit products that can sync on a regular basis via your cell phone. Your using my second suggestion would provide those people with up to the minute estimations based on real time data. For those of us who may only sync in the morning and in the evening, we would see what we've seen in the past.

Your site has a successful history of helping many people keep track of their fitness and nutrition. There are outstanding results being reported every day on this site. Myself, I've lost almost 40lbs in the last 6 months. We've all accomplished these results with your help and WITHOUT this upgraded algorithm. What you perceived as a lack of accuracy was not harming anyone, it was not a problem that needed addressing. Change for the sake of change is not improvement.


Very well said and I completely agree with these suggestions.
October 21, 2012 10:46 AM
Whenever I read one of these threads I feel like I need to be some kind of math/tech wiz to be able to manage MFP and FitBit. I got it enough to be able to utilize an MFP/Fitbit sync in a way that worked for me. I was also able to talk a couple of other people into getting fitbits and syncing. They are far less likely than I am to do in-depth reading on how to be an MFP/Fitbit professional user. With these new changes it's much more difficult to be a simple user. I love my fitbit but at this point it's usefulness has nothing to do with MFP integration -- it's all about tracking steps like a basic pedometer.

It would be AWESOME if there were a way to sync the two and just have it work without having to belong to a user group and read umpteen threads about how to make it all work properly.
October 21, 2012 11:16 AM
QUOTE:

Hi,

Sorry for the delay in responding to you and sorry for any inconvenience. I'd be happy to help you troubleshoot the connection between your two accounts, if there is a technical issue. May I ask you to check a few items that will help us to determine if your accounts are syncing properly? Because we can't access your Fitbit account directly, it will be very helpful if you can check the following items to see if they match between your accounts.

There are three data points that you can compare between your Fitbit and MFP accounts to determine if your accounts are syncing properly.

These three items are Fitbit Steps, Fitbit Sleep Minutes, and the FItBit Adjustment (for calories burned).

You can see your Fitbit Steps and Fitbit Sleep Minutes in two places:

1. Under the "My Home" tab, click "Check-In". This will take you to a screen where you can enter in new progress measurements. This is where we record your Fitbit Steps and Fitbit Sleep Minutes. If you want to go directly to that screen you can go to this URL:



Thanks Scott -
I think you may have proven that there's a serious glitch -
In checking just the steps/sleep numbers as above for yesterday:
MFP registered a fitbit adjustment of 2306.0 - the number on the fitbit site was actually 4358 (it was a very slow day). And I did check, these are absolutely not the numbers from today, or the previous day. The sleep numbers, however, are accurate.

I didn't pursue this further in your adjustment calculations, but if the system is not recording the number accurately in one area, I doubt that the calculation is as accurate as you may anticipate. Garbage in/Garbage out, in other words.

Thank you
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